Badmouthing the British video games retailer ShopTo on Twitter might just get your order canceled. The company today apologized for canceling the order of a customer who used profanity in complaining to a friend—not to ShopTo—about the pricing of a PlayStation 4 bundle.
Still, ShopTo's apology seems to leave open the possibility that if you do cuss 'em out on social media—as in, swearing in a Tweet addressed to their Twitter handle—they will cancel your account and all orders associated with it.
Here's what happened. Customer Carl (who posted an account of this incident to NeoGAF earlier today) noticed that Amazon.co.uk had lowered its price for the PlayStation 4 Mega Bundle (which includes two controllers and Killzone: Shadow Fall) by £20 to £430. Carl sent a Twitter direct message to ShopTo, where he had a PS4 Mega Bundle on preorder, to ask if they would drop their price, too. Direct message answer: "No plans for any price changes. Thanks."
Carl even apologized for "whining a bit" in subsequent DMs, saying "I'm just a little disappointed, that's all." Carl didn't want to cancel his preorder with ShopTo, as there's no remaining stock for the Mega Bundle at Amazon.co.uk and he didn't want to miss out on getting the console day one.
However, he did tell a friend, over-the-air on Twitter, that he'd be shifting his preordered PS4 games from ShopTo to Amazon "to say fuck you :)." The tweet was not addressed to ShopTo. Seven minutes after his last DM to ShopTo, he was confronted with the Tweet. "We do not tolerate rude/vulgar/inappropriate behaviour," ShopTo DM'd Carl. "We will close the accounts of customers who cannot interact in an appropriate manner."
"Haha, seriously?" said Carl, speaking for most of us. "Okay."
And with that, ShopTo wiped out his PS4 order. "Consider your account closed. Thank you."
Carl took the matter to NeoGAF, where it quickly took on a life of its own. Enough that ShopTo opened an investigation into the matter. And for those skeptical of Carl's story, it checks out, per this apology by the retailer on its site:
"[A]s our staff were talking to this customer at the same time, when our social feed showed the abuse (for social purposes we use tweetdeck to allows us to see anytime the shopto name is mentioned on twitter), the staff took it as being directly made to ShopTo," said ShopTo.
Basically, Carl's tweet to his friend was taken for one made to ShopTo's attention. "Further investigation into this matter shows us that the customer was not actually pointing abuse at us, but just talking to his friend, so in this case we have to deeply apologise for being in the wrong.
"As a way to make this up to the customer we have offered to restore his account and provide his PS4 free of charge."
ShopTo has admitted it was in the wrong but its reasoning for canceling the order in the first place seems problematic to me. I am the last person on Earth who gets to lecture anyone on the thickness of their skin. But money is money. If I've got yours, it may be unpleasant to hear you complain, but there's got to be, at least, the smug satisfaction of knowing you're still paying me and playing by my rules, however odious you find them. Maybe that's the shameless American capitalism in my upbringing.
ShopTo saw fit to explain that if Carl had directed his profanity at ShopTo, he wouldn't be getting any sympathy, much less a free console. "We hope that you understand that we thought this abuse was being aimed at us directly. We cannot tolerate our staff being abused and have to take a stance on this, but since this customer did not aim abuse at us directly we must admit that on this occasion we were in the wrong with regards to the decision to cancel his account."
Still, in addition to making a self-effacing apology for "whining," and using "fuck you" in about the mildest way one could use those words, Carl is also making a fundamentally empty gesture. He says he's moving his business away from ShopTo while leaving £450 worth of it with them. Even if Carl had expressed his words more personally, his actions still speak louder, and they say his pique at the price difference doesn't really matter that much. So why should it matter to ShopTo?
ShopTo: An Apology [ShopTo]